Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I don't Awana rock with you


My good pal over at Better Living through Bacon recently wrote about her six-year-old daughter's first (and last) visit to the Awana Clubs, a Kristian organization whose primary purpose seems to be scaring young children into believing in Jesus.

I'm sorry, but frightening six-year-olds into believing what you believe is simply not a legitimate use of religion in my book. Frankly, I think this kind of thing should be illegal.

I was raised as a Lutheran, although because we ended up attending the scarier Missouri Synod part of the church, I got a lot of the fire-and-brimstone education from which my more moderate Lutheran friends were spared.

It wasn't until I was attending a Lutheran college that I discovered mainstream Lutherans, you know, of the Sunday hot-dish church supper variety. We had none of that good stuff when I was a kid; for me, church was all about what would and wouldn't get you sent to Hell.

In my parents' defense, they would have put a stop to it if they'd known exactly what I was being taught in Sunday school and confirmation classes. Unfortunately, they were usually both too drunk to inquire. But that's another story.

One time when I was in 4th grade my school friend John Hagerson asked if I wanted to attend an Awana meeting with him. "Sure," I said, having no idea what "Awana" was. I was just usually game for anything that would get me out of the house.

When I arrived at the designated address I realized it was a church. "Oh," I said to the other kids there, "do you have to belong to a certain religion to go to this?" They all replied, in unison, "IT'S NON-DENOMINATIONAL!"

Well alrighty then!

There were some preliminary niceties, and then about 50 of us kids were seated inside the church and some guy was in front going on and on about how we needed to be "saved." Pretty soon he had all of us bow our heads to pray, and started asking which ones of us wanted to come up to the front to be "saved."

This was confusing to me. For starters, I had been going to Sunday school for several years by that point and had thought I was already "saved." Why was this guy acting like I needed to be saved again?

Furthermore, what exactly was he going to do to "save" me? Wasn't that God's job, not his?

After an uncomfortably long time sitting there with no one opting for eternal salvation, we were dismissed and the meeting was over. John came up to me holding two Snickers bars and handed me one. "This is our prize for me having convinced you to come tonight," he told me.

Oh, for crying out loud, I thought. Is this what this whole song and dance was about? You wanted a free candy bar? I smelled a scam.

I never went back. Those people gave me the creeps.

32 comments:

Bacon Lady said...

"Non-Denominational" is code for "Heatens welcome (so we can pelt you with spew and win brownie points with the Boss)".

Great post, Mistah.

Bacon Lady said...

...that'd be "heathens", not heatens. I'm mid-coffee.

Mnmom said...

Creepy, creepy, creepy, I was raised in a very low-key Iowa Methodist church. We were taught a lot about serving others and making sure the "least of these" were taken care of. Organized religion just plain scares me.

Tanya Espanya said...

Mmmm...snickers bar. So, it's like Halloween? Free candy just for showing up.

RC said...

interesting reflection. i attended awana at various times as a kid, with various experiences, many of them good.

the biggest thing I've noticed about Awana is that it's basicly like boy-scouts without the camping, and they replace it with a lot of bible verse memory (king james version only).

it certainly is interesting, and interesting to reflect on those types of events as adults.

Hot Lemon said...

don't forget-- when you go to hell you go FOREVER. Not 100 years, not 1,000 or even 1,000,000 years but ALL OF FOREVER.

THAT alone is scary. Scary that people believe that shit. Where religion is corn-cerned I don't think we have the slightest idea what the hell we're talking about, really-- it's all about fearmongering. And you're right: it should be illegal.

Keith Kennedy said...

Unfortunately, many of the denominations believe that only thier method of "saving" you is valid.

Funny thing - I always thought that was God's job......

That shit is scary.

Check this link out for more scary Kristian Stuff

http://trevinwax.com/2008/02/09/baptist-preaching-sinks-to-new-low/

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Brilliant post. Your experience sounds like many I've had along the way.

Melinda June said...

I'm with bacon lady. "Non-denominational", regardless of the beliefs of the deliverer, is code for RUN AWAY.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I'm with you on this CP, I think we should call it brainwashing when your subjects are that young and chocolate rewards are involved.

Chris said...

Phew! That was scary right up until the end. I was afraid they were going to end up trying to sell you Amway products!

Tenacious S said...

I went to Awana for years and managed to turn out OK. I don't remember much more than memorizing a bunch of verses and playing games. Then again, my upbringing was so fundamental that I wouldn't have noticed. Just like some church goers are Kristians and some aren't, I think some Awana programs are probably OK for what they are and some are not.

PG said...

The Mama Gin would at least give you $200 for baby!

Alan said...

"Awana" as in, "Awana go to Heaven and not Hell!"

*sheepish* I'm just surprised no one came up with that one yet.

As you know, me and fundamentalism go way back, so I have a higher tolerance for such tactics. And like Mulder, I Want To Believe. I just can't accept the people who bring the religion anymore. I know we've all got flaws, but my religious peeps seem to come with a whole shiny new set of neurosis that they use religion to cover up. Unfortunately, it never stays covered, and sooner or later ba-BOOOM! Somebody's organist ran off with somebody's wife or somebody's funds where taken by somebody's treasurer, or somebody's Sunday school teacher fondled somebody's kid--and varying degrees between.

If there's a pure religion out there somewhere, I hope to find it.

Old Lady said...

I never did believe all that when I was a child either. It just didn't make sense to me.

Gifted Typist said...

Funny, my son's name is Kristian, the name chosen because we liked the sound of it, but being non-Christian practitioners we didn't want people getting the wrong idea - so it is Kristian with the K

Jake's Mom said...

But according to the Mormons, they are the only ones going to Heaven and on top of that they can pray people into Heaven.
YIKES!!! All of the Kristians are scary

Grant Miller said...

I was raised with religion and all that, but I never learned a thing about Awana until recently. I must have had my head in the sand or somewhere.

Mathman6293 said...

I had a couple of friends in elementary school that were in awanas. I never knew what it was, I always thought it was some club about native americans. But this jew never was invited.

We have awanas here and our kids do a pretty good job of sending them off.

PG said...

Nothing like following a religion named after a tropical fish...

Alan: Try taosim.

lulu said...

I went to Awana once with a neighborhood friend. It was scary. I was raised going to hippy dippy church where reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was the highlight of sunday school.

Hot Lemon said...

Oh, and are YOU screwing to lower the divorce rate??

Dale said...

Jesus loves the little Snickers, all the little Snickers of the world.

Eebie said...

I think tanya had it right, scaring kids then giving them candy, it's like Halloween every Sunday. Shit, I loved Halloween, why didn't I ever get invited?

GrizzBabe said...

Mmmmm, church potlucks. Yummy.

I just recently discovered a denomination called United Church of Christ. They are very progressive (they welcome gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered with open arms) and are not the least bit fire-and-brimstone. They also champion social and economic justice, a characteristic about them that I love.

In fact, Barack Obama has been a member for 20 years of the largest church in the UCC, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Anyway, enough about that. Back to church potlucks. Mmmmmm.

lulu said...

grizzbabe--My Dad is a UCC minister, which is why my comments on the Christian posts tend to be more positive than many peoples'. Until I was in high school, it never occurred to me the Christianity was somehow connected with hate or judgment; it was always about social justice and love in my house.

vikkitikkitavi said...

I got to go with the great George Carlin on this one: "Organized religion is a contradiction in terms."

GrizzBabe said...

Lulu, how cool! I wish I had known about the UCC before the Southern Baptists got a hold of me. Now, I'm having to be deprogrammed.

Weeping Sore said...

A free candy bar seems like one of the better reasons I've found for going to church.

Chris said...

Oh yeah, I forgot about this post when I wrote mine on Thursday. Talk about scare tactics. Go check it out....you'll love it;)

jewgirl said...

Child, we are on the same page. Indoctrinating children by fear into believing in God is wrong on every fucking level.

Have you heard about Hell Houses? Check this out: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hallo_he.htm

Gipsy said...

AWANA It is all capitals and it means "Aproved Workmen Are Not Ashamed". It's from a scripture.
Kristian by the way means the same thing no matter how you spell the name. It means "follower of Christ". Even with a "K" which is how it is spelled in German, Swedish and a few other languages.
It's too bad you are all so negative about AWANA or God or religion. I hope you have found happiness in other areas of your life. I'm sorry you feel Christianity is like a market place or a form of terror or brain washing. It's a sad commentary on the Church. But, the negativeness isn't new to Christ followers (Christians).